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Woodbury shopping center, grocery story given go-ahead

Though concerns over mobility at a proposed shopping center in southern Woodbury continued to linger, Woodbury City Council members approved plans for it and its centerpiece feature -- a grocery store.

Council gave the go-ahead to the Bielenberg Gardens shopping center project, which will be located in the southwest corner of Radio Drive and Bailey Road -- just west of the new Bielenberg Sports Center. The project will include a 48,000 square-foot grocery store, which was also greenlighted by the council, in spite of concerns about the pedestrian friendliness of the shopping complex.

Council Member Amy Scoggins was the most vocal critic of mobility issues on the council.

"It doesn't look like what I'd hoped it would look like" she said of plans.

Scoggins said residents of the proposed Urban Village homes would be more prone to bike to the shopping center than walk, but the infrastructure submitted Wednesday, Sept. 11, might not foster that transportation the way she had envisioned, especially along the shopping center's main drag, Finley Road.

City staff said they would work with the developer, Bielenberg Gardens Retail LLC, to mitigate those concerns by examining the possibility of expanding a Finley Road sidewalk into a trail bicyclists could use.

City Administrator Clint Gridley supported the notion, adding that bicyclists could steer away if only offered sidewalks.

"There's a sense that sidewalks are for walkers and trails are for bikes," he said.

City Planner Dwight Picha said plans for a sidewalk along Finley Road were shaped by the consideration that residents of the neighboring Saint Therese senior housing facility walking to the shopping center could come in conflict with bicyclists.

Bike and foot traffic weren't the only transportation issues addressed at the meeting.

Council Member Paul Rebholz raised the possibility of a roundabout at the shopping center's southern entrance along Hargis Parkway, in hopes of creating a series of such traffic control measures along the street as it continues west.

City Engineer Klayton Eckles cast doubts on that possibility, saying city right-of-way along that stretch is limited and would likely require the acquisition of neighboring property.

"I think that's too bad, by the way," Rebholz responded.

Gridley asked staff to leave open the possibility of Hargis Parkway roundabouts for the future. Rebholz said it wouldn't be worth changing the shopping center's site plan this late in the game, anyway.

"I'm not interested in changing the whole site plan on this issue," he said before joining his colleagues on the council in giving unanimous approval to the plans.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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